Samuel Zug was born in 1816. In 1836, he came to Detroit from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Using money he saved as a bookkeeper in the Pittsburgh area, he went into the furniture making business with Marcus Stevenson, a Detroit investor. The available wood and convenient access to Eastern markets by way of the Detroit River for their finished products, made Detroit an ideal place for the business. In 1859 after twenty-three years in the furniture business, his partnership with Stevenson was dissolved leaving Zug a wealthy man to pursue real estate and political ambitions.
Zug was a devout Presbyterian who had a keen interest in politics and human rights. He was a firm and early abolitionist. He was a worker on the Underground Railroad who sheltered and assisted countless freedom seekers. He was an early member of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society in the 1840s. He supported the anti-slavery newspaper, the Signal of Liberty, with both his subscription and advertising. He was active in Michigan’s anti-slavery Liberty Party, and the Anti-Slavery Young Men of Michigan Society; served on the committee to examine delegates credentials at the 1844 Wayne Liberty Convention; and was a representative for his city ward. Zug ran for office in the Liberty Party and supported James G. Birney for president in 1844.
He served on the Executive Committee for the Refugee Home Society and contributed to the colonization of Canada by purchasing tracts of land to be leased to freedom seekers. He also served as chairman of the Free Soil State Central Committee and later the Republican Party.
Zug died in 1889 and is buried in Section F, Lot 16. His monument is pictured below.
This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), funded by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASALH or the Department of the Interior. Elmwood Cemetery’s Network to Freedom Application was completed by Carol Mull and Gabrielle Lucci. This biography was completed based upon the Application and records available through Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit Historical Society, Burton Historical Library, Military Records of the United States, Michigan Historical Center, and various information sources.